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The House on Mango Street By: Sandra Cisneros

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1 The House on Mango Street By: Sandra Cisneros
Themes—fundamental ideas explored in a literary work Motifs—recurring images, ideas, or objects that help develop the text’s themes / messages Symbols—objects, characters, etc. that represent abstract ideas or concepts

2 Themes— The Power of Words
Words imprison people “No Speak English” (76)—Mamacita is imprisoned inside her apartment because she does not speak English Papa could not choose what he ate when he first moved to America because he only could say “hamandeggs” (77)

3 Themes— The Power of Words
Words set people free “Minerva Writes Poems” (84)—Minerva’s only escape from her difficult life (two kids and a husband who left) is writing poetry “A House of My Own” (108)—Esperanza ultimately escapes Mango Street by becoming a writer

4 Themes— The Struggle to Define Yourself
“My Name” (10)—In the beginning, Esperanza wants to change her identity by changing her name, cutting herself off from her family and heritage “Mango Says Goodbye Sometimes” (109)—In the end, she comes to accept her community, her heritage, and her family and realizes that the most important way she can define herself is through writing

5 Themes— Growing Up Dangerous / Scary
“The Family of Little Feet” (39)—Esperanza and her friends walk through the neighborhood in high heels, only to realize that they are getting too much attention from men “The First Job” (53)—At Esperanza’s first job, she is tricked into kissing a much older co-worker and feels afraid

6 Themes— Growing Up Exciting Confusing
“Beautiful and Cruel” (88)—Esperanza is finding her independence and power Confusing “Sire” (72)—A boy who is dating another girl stares at Esperanza, making her unsure of whether or not she wants the attention “Sally” (81)—Esperanza doesn’t know whether or not to believe the bad rumors about her friend

7 Motifs— Names Esperanza is one of the only characters with just one name… Nenny is a nickname for Magdalena Aunt Lupe is the English version of the Spanish name, Guadaloupe Multiple names emphasize the mix of cultures and languages on Mango Street

8 Motifs— Falling / Flying / Floating
Examples: Angel Vargas and Meme both fall from heights, Marin is waiting for a star to fall to change her life, Esperanza sees herself as a red balloon Flying may represent people’s hopes of changing their lives and falling may represent their failures to do so

9 Motifs— Women by Windows
Mango Street is full of women who are trapped—by husbands, fathers, violence, poverty, children, domestic duties, etc. Four women on Mango Street are trapped in their apartments: Mamacita, Rafaela, Minerva, and Sally Esperanza is determined never to become a woman sitting by a window watching the world go by She will be free and independent

10 Symbols— Circles Examples: apples (26), sugar donuts (26), tortillas (31), light bulbs (59), records (71), balloons (99), etc. Circles represent the ways many characters are trapped in cycles of violence and poverty, as well as the ways community can help break those cycles

11 Symbols— Trees “Four Skinny Tress” (74)—Esperanza doesn’t belong on Mango Street, just as the trees don’t belong in the city Both she and the trees persevere despite their poor living conditions and the obstacles in their paths (ex: the trees are surrounded by cement and Esperanza is surrounded by poverty and low expectations)

12 Symbols— Shoes “The Family of Little Feet” (39)—High heels symbolize adolescents’ budding sexuality and their newfound interest in the opposite sex “Chanclas” (46)—Esperanza is ashamed of her worn out, little girl shoes and she is embarrassed to dance—she wants to grow up so she can begin a new life Shoes represent experience (both good and bad) and growing up

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